MILLVILLE - It has been more than a year since the city started cracking down on code violations in its oldest neighborhoods, and it doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
In a recent sweep, the city's inspection department, along with Revenue Allocation District personnel, split into teams and walked every block in the area between High and 10th streets, known as center city, looking for code violations and writing citations for every one they found.
In total, the city wrote 106 citations over two days - for everything from trash and loose debris in people's yards to serious structural issues with their homes - Public Works Director Dale Finch said.
In the upcoming weeks, they will do the same in the South Millville and Third Ward neighborhoods.
"The inspectors are targeting specific neighborhoods," Finch said. "They're parking their cars and getting out and walking the neighborhood. They walked two days through center city.
"We're being aggressive in citing people that are not keeping up to code."
The city began to step up its code enforcement in June 2009. The city wrote more than 400 violations in the first couple of weeks last year. Finch said that while many of the significant structural issues have been taken care of, the smaller issues, such as trash and overgrown lawns, have remained.
The goal was to try to eliminate the blight from city neighborhoods. But a job of that magnitude cannot be accomplished in just a couple of weeks, Finch said.
Derek Leary, a code enforcer for the RAD, said this year there are fewer structural problems but more in the way of the trash and debris offenses. A larger issue right now, he said, is foreclosures.
"The biggest issue now is that there are quite a few vacant properties," he said. "It's hard to get a hold of the landlords, and in some cases homeowners who have just left."
Still, the city has remained firm in its committment. Finch said the city is willing to work with property owners in some circumstances but that there must be a concerted effort to maintain properties.
Most of the citations have been addressed already, Leary said. The issues are generally minor and do not require much more than a little effort to fix. Although some landlords should be more diligent, he said, most try to correct problems before they progress too far.
"It's a balancing act between being aggressive and improving our community," Finch said.
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